Orange Twist
Mopar Muscle|March 2020
Rod Short

Vintage Hemi-powered cars are still the mainstay of Mopar folklore, but they weren’t always readily available to everyday enthusiasts back in the day. That’s why Blue Ridge, Virginia’s Michael Damewood, and his 1968 426 wedge powered Dodge Dart generates such interest. It provides a twist on people’s conceptions of big-block Mopar power. “My granddaddy and brother had always had Dodges or Plymouths,” Damewood says, “but when I started looking for one when I was living in Louisiana, I found that there weren’t many four-speed Mopars with A/C delete down there because of the climate.

“My problem was that I was always looking for a particular one, a 1969 Coronet. I eventually stopped looking and was helping my buddies with their cars. Eventually, I went to look at this 1968 Dart GT with a 225 Slant Six that this guy said he had. It had rot around the corners, but the floors and windows were OK, so I ended up bringing it home. Decent sheet metal wasn’t readily available for Darts up to that time, so when Auto Metal Direct had full quarters hoods and fenders, the build was on!”

Once the sheet metal was replaced, Damewood went one step further by swapping out the original flat hood for an upscale replacement from a 1969 Dart Swinger. The chrome 340 inserts were then replaced with similar-looking 426 pieces. As the body was being prepped for painting, the original side moldings were removed and the mounting holes filled, while a 1969 Charger gas cap was installed on the car’s left-hand side.

Dave Stevens from Kolin, Louisiana, and David Barbour from Roanoke, Virginia, were both employed to finish the car in a 2012 factory-colored basecoat/ clearcoat. The roof was painted black, even though there was never a vinyl top of the car.

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